Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chalking things up

I finally used the Rust-Oleum Chalk Board Paint that I purchased months ago at the hardware store. (Amy at Child Central Station led us to a recipe for home-made chalkboard paint and it looks so simple that I'm going to have to try it!)

The side of this shelf definitely needed to be covered in chalkboard paint! I used painters tape to create two sections. My goal is that the top would be used for text, maybe a label for the picture below or something.

Here's me wondering what the kids will do with this cool little chalkboard space?

Well, they did use the top for text...

We made sure to equip the area with the right tools...
namely a reliable supply of chalk and a wet rag for a dustless and thorough erase. 

I also used chalkboard paint to cover the ugly pre-decorated side of this beautiful train table.  Okay, I might have "helped" kick things off by adding roads and a skyscraper.

Which they promptly erased and fixed.

Sometimes one path is all we need.  Makes things much less complicated.

So with these chalkboard spaces available, I can get rid of our chalkboard easel, right? 

OR I can add baby food jars of water with feathers and watercolor brushes so the kids can do a little zen water painting.

Some day, I will find black chalk board paint and paint a huge wall of it!!!


I linked up at:

Leaping along the ABC's

Okay, so the kids don't actually know this is a "leap" year inspired game, but I thought a little animal ABC hop scotch game was in order, what with "leaping" and "hopping" going hand in hand.  Are ya with me?

The game consists of those three little cuties waiting to find their way home. So what is a puppy or baby bird to do? Follow the ABC's to the dog house or the bird's nest. 

They get to meet lots of little insects along the way.  We'll see how the children use this and make it their own.  Lately, we've had a lot of board games that are geared toward older children since a group-wide interest in board games has emerged (so predictably 4 1/2 year old stuff!).  I thought it was time to simplify it for the kids who like board games but get overwhelmed by all of the rules.  This is a "make it your own" kind of game.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Light Table Ideas

Add fabric to soften texture and create a setting

 Add a picture frame to enhance play with geometric shapes and patterns

I linked up at The Kids Co-Op!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Raining Rainbows and Scientific Exploration

With all of the hubbub about this cool science activity, I had to try it with the children! 

We approached it from the angle of scientific exploration. Predictions, observation, cause and effect. I talked to Deva a bit beforehand and we figured out ways to guide the dialogue with the children to enhance their own scientific discovery process.  We paused during each step of the activity to ask probing questions and listen to the children's comments and interpretations of what was happening.  This was a voluntary activity but they all enthusiastically joined, stayed, and listened to each other's ideas.

Because it was a science activity and not an art project or open-ended activity per se, we set it up as a teacher-led activity in one giant glass vase, giving each child the opportunity to really observe and reflect on what was happening. We even used visualization and imagination to envision what was happening and what we think might happen next.

Soon, though, it became a big color dumping fest, which was okay because by that point we felt pretty complete about the teacher-led part of the activity.

The science exploration wasn't over yet, though, as children wondered what would happen when they blew the shaving foam and carried out their own experimentation.

There was such a high interest level in this activity that the next day, they each got their own baby food jars, shaving foam, droppers and color set.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Light table photos and a cool trick to make it translucent

Here are some photos of the last two days of use of the light table:

So in my original DIY light table post, I mentioned that I taped parchment paper on the table to turn the surface from transparent to translucent.  Paper poses many problems here (e.g. ripping), so here's how a friend suggested I create translucence.  I actually drilled a second layer of the polycarbonate over the original layer and sandwiched parchment paper in between. Came out pretty good. May not be a permanent solution but it will last for a good while!

Teaching Math is Simple

This guy is using unit blocks to try and enclose himself into a space under a shelf.  What a great self-motivated and fully engaging activity to discover properties of length and measurement.

Many new teachers that I mentor tend to get overwhelmed trying to find play-based math activities for preschoolers.  For a more seasoned teacher like myself, finding opportunities to explore math concepts throughout the day is easy.  Through years of teaching and refining my awareness, I see math in our every day world.  For those who are newer and struggling in this area, I'm reposting a list that my instructor posted for our class of a few simple math activities, many of which work both for toddlers and preschoolers:
Stacking blocks
Comparing big and small objects
Exploring coins (use a magnifying glass to look at shiny new pennies)
Read books that talk about more than on character (such as 10 ants going marching)
Pose problems and seek answers
Collect items
Sort items by color
Look for shapes in the room
Make patterns of items (such as red block, blue block, green block)
Matching games (lotto)
Use a measure tape to measure items in the classroom
Use scales to measure more or less
Use measuring cups 
Clearly from this list, preschool math is not only about teaching numbers and numerals. It's about offering materials that provide inherent math concepts so that the child can learn with their hands and heart.  It's also about being aware of when the interest level is at its peak and offering curriculum that appeals to the interest level. (For instance, our new measuring tape and dial scale is based on our recent continuous dialogue about length and measurement).
 Using measuring cups

 Lining up objects

Copying patterns with objects in space

Wrestling is good for children.

Originally published Sept 2010 Many of our parents seemed shocked when they came to pick up their children from Beansprouts and found the...